While the data shows the usual share uplift in the Q4 period, with seven Apple devices making it into the top 10 best sellers for the Christmas period, Kantar says it is a considerable decrease on share reported for the previous year.
According to Kantar, in Q4 2017, Apple’s then new models, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, accounted for a combined share of 26.5%, primarily led by the iPhone 8 which, alone, commanded a share of over 12%.
But the comparative figures for Apple’s latest models show a combined share of 15.2%, with the XS Max taking second place, the XR in fourth place and the XS in fifth place.
Kantar says the iPhone XR, so far, shows a fairly even split by gender and skews heavily towards those under 25 and, while previous good experience features strongly as a purchase driver, other factors such as good tariff deals and trade-in schemes are also important influences.
In the same period, Android share enjoyed significant growth, up from 53.1% to 56.5%, and Kantar says growth for the platform was driven largely by three brands.
Samsung share grew year on year, from 25.6% in Q4 2017 to 28.5% in the Q4 2018 period. Despite a drop in share from Q3 2018, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S9 device was the best-selling smartphone in Q4 2018 and, since its launch, has gradually attracted more female buyers aged under 25, Kantar reports.
Kantar says Galaxy S9 buyers were largely driven by good deals on the plans or on the price of the phone itself, while Huawei share increased from 3.9% a year ago up to 5.6% this quarter, with growth concentrated in the mid price tier ($301-$600), driven by the Nova 3E device in the open channels such as JB Hi-Fi and the premium tier ($901-$1200), driven by the Mate 20 Pro and the P20/P20 Pro models, aided by partnering with Vodafone.
According to Kantar, the main purchase driver was a good deal on the price of the phone, however, advocacy in the form of hearing/reading good things and in-store recommendation played an important role this period in influencing consumers to buy.
“The third winner in the Android market was Nokia, whose share grew by 1 ppt to 2.3% in the latest quarter, largely driven by the 6.1 and 2.1 models. With share concentrated in prices up to $300, a good deal on the handset price featured heavily as the main purchase driver. Although Samsung and Apple remain by far the most recommended brands in-store, recommendation for Nokia rose from just 6.5% a year ago to 18.3% this period,” Kantar said.
On the worldwide smartphone OS data, Kantar reports that for the three months ending December 2018, Android accounted for more than three-quarters of all smartphone sales across the five major European markets, thanks to increased penetration for Chinese operators Huawei and Xiaomi.
But iOS still registered the vast majority of the remaining quarter of sales, despite an OS share fall of 1.3 percentage points.
Dominic Sunnebo, global director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said, “The European smartphone market remains highly competitive. Despite recent negative headlines for the Chinese manufacturers, there’s no evidence that these issues have affected sales as Huawei, Honor and Xiaomi continue their concerted push into western Europe. Samsung and Apple still performed admirably, with disruption limited to only a marginal loss of market share.”
Kantar says Xiaomi is now the fourth best-selling smartphone brand in Europe, with nearly six million active owners, and the manufacturer is continuing to expand rapidly in Spain and, more recently, in Italy and France as well.
Sunnebo said: “Having only launched in the UK in November last year, Xiaomi’s presence in Great Britain is still small, but with new products already going on sale in January we expect further growth in 2019. The Chinese manufacturer has found success so far with a competitive pricing strategy which places its most expensive flagship model at around £500. This appeals to users who are looking for premium quality but are not willing or able to splash out the best part of a four-figure sum.
“While Samsung and Apple are still doing well in Europe, the impact these Chinese giants are having on the market is causing headaches for the smaller operators. Sony, LG and Wiko are being disproportionally impacted because of their historic stakes in the ultra-competitive low and mid-price tiers. To keep up in this landscape, these brands should take heed from their competitors when it comes to marketing. Xiaomi has a legacy of shunning traditional media in favour of community-driven social campaigns – which goes to show that greater marketing spend doesn’t always generate a bigger buzz.”